The HDT8520's user interface lacks a little in terms of pixels – it's not hi-res enough on a big screen – though it's a simple to use system. One major complaint we have is that the electronic programme guide is entirely separate from live TV; choose the Guide button on the excellent remote control and the picture and audio cuts out. It's a similar state of affairs when any other menu is called-up.
That lack of integration is a shame, though the EPG's recording functions are as joined-up as you could wish for. Simple taps of the remote's record button record single episodes and install series links (the latter take a few seconds and a 'booking in progress, please wait' message) direct from the EPG, which is quick to respond to button presses from the remote.
If a recording clash occurs, if gives you a choice to delete named programmes, while a HDD library includes icons for individual programmes and folders for programmes that result from a series link. Oddly, recordings are locked, and deleting one means a merry dance on the remote.
When watching recordings it's possible to scan at high speed – up to 128x, in fact, which is a very welcome feature – though there's no option to skip to a particular time of the recording, or in 10-minute chunks.
On the audio side the HDT8520 can't translate Freeview HD's native HE-AAC audio format to Dolby Digital, so surround sound is off the menu – one for the next software update, perhaps – though it does have a plethora of audio outputs.